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Mariscos paella at Spanish restaurant Otono in Highland Park
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Here’s where to find the best Spanish restaurants in L.A.

¡Arriba, abajo, afuera, adentro! Forget fusion-y small plates—here’s where to find L.A.'s best Spanish tapas, paella and more

Patricia Kelly Yeo
Written by
Stephanie Breijo
Contributor
Patricia Kelly Yeo
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Despite being a city founded by Spaniards, Los Angeles is strangely lacking in their national cuisine. However, if you know where to look, you'll find the bold, garlicky flavors of the Iberian Peninsula all around L.A, from traditional paella and croquetas to imported jamón, all at some of L.A.’s best restaurantsWhether you’re craving imported tinned fish, plate-size tortilla española or the most luxurious and modern takes on Spanish cuisine, here’s where to take your tapas like a Spaniard—and don’t forget a glass of sangria.

10 best Spanish restaurants in L.A.

  • Restaurants
  • Mediterranean
  • West Hollywood
  • price 3 of 4

Best for: seafood paella, vegetable fideuá

With its bright yellow upholstered booths, hand-crafted cocktails and airy 7,000-square-foot multi-faceted dining room, Soulmate fits right in with the party culture of West Hollywood. But the fun doesn’t distract from the food: Chef Rudy Lopez (formerly of the NoMad Los Angeles and José Andrés’s Mi Casa in Puerto Rico) brings a Spanish Mediterranean menu that highlights the best of California produce. Munch on Soulmate's chicken croquettes and spicy tuna paella bites while you wait for their saffron-inflected seafood paella. Cooked fresh to order, each skillet comes topped with fresh greens and dollops of garlic aioli–small details that brighten the dish's overall flavor profile.

  • Restaurants
  • Spanish
  • Highland Park
  • price 2 of 4

Best for: pan con tomate, boquerones

Classic dishes from Valencia and Catalonia fuse with chef Teresa Montaño’s urban, global approach for an old-world–meets–new-world spin on Spanish cuisine. From the kitchen of her cozy shotgun restaurant, Japanese dashi sneaks into the paella, while even the pan con tomate sprinkles in a little something extra: tomato essence, in addition to the traditional tomato spread and raw garlic. Gin-and-tonic goblets brimming with herbs and botanicals await, as do vermouths, sherries, small-producer natural wines and other tipples from beverage director Gavin Koehn—all the better to snag during “Siesta Hour,” from 4:30 to 6:30pm, along with tapas like jamon croqueta.

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  • Restaurants
  • Spanish
  • Beverly Grove

Best for: selection of tapas, ambience 

The scent of seafood, garlic and saffron hits you the second you enter this Westside mainstay, which feels more like a friend’s hacienda than a restaurant. Colorful ceramic plates line the walls, the lighting is low and warm, and the tapas come out sizzling in delectable pools of garlic and olive oil. As the name suggests, the paella is the focus, but we're smitten with the lengthy list of tapas: flavorful shrimp, grilled squid, simmered meatballs and more. By far the city’s most authentic in congeniality and ambience, La Paella is a restaurant where we would be more than happy to enjoy a long lunch, take a siesta and then return for dinner the same day.

  • Restaurants
  • Spanish
  • The Harbor
  • price 1 of 4

Best for: paella, cured meats

Drive through a warehouse district, turn down a dead-end side street and join the line at this tiny storefront—you’ve reached your paella destination. On weekdays, L.A.’s best Spanish deli hawks baguettes packed with jamón, cheese, or tuna in tomato sauce, but on Saturday mornings, Angelenos trek from far and wide to chow down on authentic bomba rice dotted with mussels, pork loin, jumbo shrimp and other goods. Order ahead to secure the elevated varieties, such as squid ink or all chicken, and don’t forget to grab jars of imported olives, slices of Ibérico ham and thick wedges of Manchego cheese before you leave.

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  • Restaurants
  • Spanish
  • Redondo Beach
  • price 3 of 4

Best for: tortilla española

Spaniards take full advantage of their coastline, so it should come as no surprise that one of the best Spanish restaurants in L.A. is just a block from ours. Gabi James adds a bit of Redondo Beach into the mix, with beach-themed gin-and-tonics, the South Bay Caesar salad and other playful offerings. Of course it nails the traditional dishes, too: Come here for the best tortilla española in town, stacked inches high with thin slices of potato and sweet pops of caramelized onion—perfect for a post-beach snack, if you ask us.

  • Restaurants
  • Spanish
  • Santa Monica

Best for: tapas by the beach

Located on Santa Monica's pedestrian-friendly Main Street, Mancheo specializes in Californian-influenced tapas and Spanish wines by the glass and bottle. Come weekend brunch time, this cozy spot also offers bottomless sangria and mimosas, as well as a reasonably priced happy hour from 5 to 6:30pm on weekdays with vegetarian-friendly croquetas and a killer goat cheese and fig crostadas. 

 

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  • Restaurants
  • Spanish
  • Hollywood
  • price 1 of 4

Best for: patatas bravas, bocatas

We could easily pen a love letter to this food truck’s garlic aioli, but our devotion wouldn’t come close to the love the French-Spanish couple behind Tumaca imbues into their bocatas. Victor and Sybil Roquin’s toothsome sandwiches always feature a blend of signature Spanish ingredients: piquillo peppers, serrano ham, dry-cured chorizo, Manchego and romesco, to name a few. But the offerings don’t stop there: The rolling restaurant also slings some serious tapas, including garlicky patatas bravas, albondigas and croquetas, as well as imported goods such as olive-oil tortas (sweet crackers) from Seville. On weekends, catch them 9am to 2pm at Intelligentsia in Silver Lake (Saturdays) and Los Feliz's Maru Coffee (Sundays). 

  • Restaurants
  • Spanish
  • Silver Lake

Best for: live entertainment

A Spanish tavern and flamenco club since the early 1960s—and a cabaret long before that—Silver Lake’s subterranean hideout is a long-time favorite for dinner and a show. These days, the on-site theatrics skew more toward burlesque and stand-up comedy, and the food’s been revamped, too: Last year, chef Jason Fullilove launched El Oso in the space, a restaurant where you’re just as likely to feast on croquetas, paella and pulpo a la plancha as you are tandoori-spiced chicken. (And if you're here for tradition, don’t worry: You can still catch flamenco dancing on Saturday nights.)

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  • Restaurants
  • Spanish
  • Echo Park

Best for: deals on sangria

For homesick Spaniards, this is the dive to go to. A hole-in-the-wall spot in a strip mall, Spain Restaurant offers no-frills cuisine and $4 filled-to-the-brim glasses of sangria, to imbibe as you watch the multiple screens sporting fútbol. The real star is the lengthy list of tapas, some rarely found in Americanized Spanish restaurants—like the sliced chorizo sautéed in a rosemary-laced red wine sauce. Craving a taste to-go? There’s also a small deli at the front selling imported meats and tinned fish.

  • Restaurants
  • Spanish
  • Woodland Hills
  • price 2 of 4

Best for: brunch, empanadas

When a motorbike enthusiast and a Spanish-Dutch chef love each other very much, you get Gasolina Café—in case you were wondering how all of those vintage helmets and Spanish Grand Prix posters wound up alongside an all-day menu of pan con Manchego and tortilla Española. But there’s an even bigger draw than the retro biker decor: Spanish fare with an approachable, diner-like twist. Forget a side of bacon with your eggs; instead, you want the griddle-fried serrano ham a la plancha. Craving French toast? Opt for the weekend-only torrija, dusted in cinnamon and sugar. The home-fries–like patatas bravas make the trip worth your while, but be sure to keep your eyes peeled for paella nights and daily specials, such as the Galician empanadas.

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